It was February, 1976 and I was in my junior year at art school in Providence. A chance meeting of my longtime classmate and friend, Maria, at a gallery opening took me by surprise. She had taken the year off and was back in town for just two days. I hadn't seen or heard from her since May of '75 when the previous school year ended.
In a nutshell, the crux of the conversation was similar to the following:
"Wow, where have you been...great to see you!"
"John, same here...taking this year off has really helped me zero in on my future plans."
"My year off from school helped me a lot, too. Are you coming back next year?"
"Yeah, I'll be back in September."
Maria (pronounced like "Mariah") and I had known each other since freshman year when we were both in the same photography class. She was a student at Brown University and later transferred to RISD the following year. She was a photo major, something she was inspired to do after freshman year and her first major introduction to photography. We both should have graduated in May, '76, but I had taken a year off after freshman year and now with her away during '75-'76 year we would both be seniors in the fall and graduate in '77.
Maria, on the right, with a friend of hers at the reception. I should have taken a better photo of her that night as I had no foreshadowing of what was in store for us in the new school year starting in September.
This particular gallery opening was in the lower level of the What Cheer parking garage. It was an old, raw, unheated space and the first time I had ever seen it used for displaying artwork. All of the pieces on display were the work of artists/students who were employees of Joe's, a sandwich shop on Benefit Street which was housed in an old classical building one door up from the apartment house where I was renting.
The gallery we were standing in was just up the street from Joe's and about two blocks from the RISD campus where nearly everyone attending the show that evening was either a student or teacher.
In the series of photos below are various shots I took of classmates and friends that evening:
The event was documented in 16mm. RISD film department head Marz Marzynski is next to the student holding the camera:
One of my graphic design classmates took this shot of moi using my camera, capturing me in my Austin Powers/bad hair look of the period:
Of my four years in school this would be the largest turnout I ever saw for any show of student work and a great evening to remember all of my friends gathered in one spot one cold February evening. How a few friends present that night would figure in my life during the coming months and years was a story about to unfold.
(Note: I had a post last June that also discussed Maria along with the subject of how the drinking age has been raised since we were students.
Also, this short series is a prelude to events that occur in my other series "Grad School Tales" which will resume after the "Roadkill" part of the story is complete.)
Photos and text are © 2012 by B+Co., Inc.